As spring churns toward summer, now is as good of a time as any to answer a few UW football and basketball questions. So, here is a mailbag.
I don’t know that he isn’t, but it is likely your premise is true, because, quite simply, it is exceedingly difficult to get graduate transfers admitted at the University of Washington.
I’ve spoken a couple times about this with Lorenzo Romar over the years. Chris Petersen has mentioned it before, too, and last spring I sat down with Kim Durand, UW’s senior associate director of athletics for student development, to better understand the complexities of this issue.
Essentially, as Durand explained it, the UW does not reserve spots in graduate programs – almost all of which are extremely competitive – for potential athletics transfers, and because the application deadline for many of those programs is in January, there really is little that a potential transfer can do to give himself a chance to get admitted.
Any potential graduate transfer would, in theory, have to apply and be accepted (and meet the same minimum academic standards as any other applicant, meaning a minimum 3.0 grade-point average) on the same timeline as everybody else. For a basketball player, that would mean sending out grad-school applications in the middle of the season, before conference play even starts. That simply isn’t feasible, save for a player who already knows he is unhappy at his current school and has the foresight (and academic credentials) necessary to make it happen.
(Additionally, Durand said only two Pac-12 schools – California and Arizona State – offer a graduate program that admits new students mid-year. So even if UW could admit a grad transfer for football, that player couldn’t enroll until the fall, and therefore would not be eligible for spring practices.)
Romar – and now Hopkins, too, certainly – would have loved to shore up a lacking roster by adding an experienced, fifth-year player. But at UW, it simply isn’t possible – or is at least so difficult that recruiting such a player would almost certainly prove to be a waste of time.
I would put those odds pretty low, if only because I don’t think the basketball team will be quite as bad as I would have if you’d asked me this question six weeks ago. They’re not in great shape, certainly, but Hopkins and staff didn’t have to do quite as much scrambling to fill out the roster as some first-year coaches do, the core of their team are juniors and sophomores instead of sophomores and freshmen, and winning 12 or 13 games really shouldn’t be that much of a stretch (since, you know, a 12 or 13-win record would still be a pretty bad season, even in these circumstances).
That said, if the hoops team struggles out of the gate and only wins, say, six or seven nonconference games … this could become a dicey proposition down the stretch, assuming the football team has the kind of season most everyone expects.
So, I don’t know, 50-to-1? 100-1? Not that I’d be the one paying it out …
UW athletic director Jen Cohen said that for the first time sinc 2013, season-ticket sales will exceed the previous season’s total. They are currently at a 96 percent renewal rate, with about 2,500 new applications for an approximate total upwards of 42,000. That figure does not include students.
(When I asked for a season-ticket sales update last August, just before the 2016 season began, the school had sold 39,867 tickets. So they are obviously trending in the right direction by a comfortable margin.)
The goal, Cohen said, is to sell 44,000 full season-ticket packages by the start of the 2017 season. That’s still not as many as the 46,978 the school sold in 2013, the year the renovated Husky Stadium opened. But it’s a sizeable step in the right direction.
Hey, I’d go with Bartlett, too. The Huskies entered fall camp the past two seasons needing to replace a bunch of edge-rushing production with players who lacked experience at that position, and they’ve made it work both times (Travis Feeney and Cory Littleton did the job in 2015, then Joe Mathis and Psalm Wooching got off to a great start in 2016 before Mathis’ injury). They face a similar problem this year, with both the “buck” and “sam” linebacker spots up for grabs.
Bartlett, who played the strongside “sam” position behind Wooching last season, seemed to find his way into the backfield quite a bit this spring, and will finally have a chance as a junior to slide into the starting lineup and take his shots at the quarterback. He spent the first two seasons of his career developing and polishing his pass-rush skills, and the Huskies need him to produce in that area in 2017. His spring performance was promising, and the opportunities should be there.
Offensively, I’ll go with redshirt freshman running back Sean McGrew (if the former California state player of the year can ever be considered a “sleeper” player). He looked great this spring, even if carries might be scarce this season behind Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman. But an offense can never have enough weapons, and if he continues to produce with the ball in his hands, Petersen -- who spoke highly of McGrew this spring -- will find ways to get him on the field.
He seems to be making the kind of progress expected of a player with his athletic potential: started as a true freshman, made first-team All-Pac-12 as a sophomore, and enters his junior season as one of the team’s top NFL prospects. To your question -- I haven’t asked coaches specifically about their expectations for Adams this season, but it would seem some kind of All-America recognition would be a reasonable goal, if he stays healthy and discovers the kind of consistency that comes along with being a year older. And if that happens, Adams will have a chance to be the first UW offensive lineman drafted in the first round since Lincoln Kennedy in 1993 -- whether he chooses to enter the 2018 draft, or stay for his senior season.
Adams is in a good spot from a team perspective, too. Losing Jake Eldrenkamp to graduation will hurt, but Adams is helped by a relatively experienced offensive line around him -- Coleman Shelton and Kaleb McGary were full-time starters last year, and Andrew Kirkland and Nick Harris both have starting experience -- so continuity and chemistry shouldn’t be much of a problem, despite that group adapting to a new position coach in Scott Huff.
In other words: there is no reason why Adams can’t have the kind of season to which you alluded.
Here is a rundown of where they stand right now with all of that, including changes to the “old” recruiting class and what the rotation might look like.
GONE FROM 2016-17 ROSTER
F Malik Dime (graduated; 5.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
G Markelle Fultz (entered NBA draft; 23.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.9 apg)
F Matthew Atewe (transferred; 2.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
GONE FROM ORIGINAL 2017 SIGNING CLASS
F Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri)
G Blake Harris (Missouri)
G Daejon Davis (Stanford)
F Mamoudou Diarra (Cincinnati)
David Crisp (6-0, Jr.): Top returning scorer averaged 13.8 points per game last season. Must improve man-to-man defense and take better care of the ball, particularly if he winds up the starting point guard.
Matisse Thybulle (6-5, Jr.): Averaged 10.5 points per game last year, and is top returning 3-point shooter with a clip of 40.5 percent. Huskies need him to be more assertive offensively, and more physical on the glass, where he averaged only 3.1 rebounds last season.
Carlos Johnson (6-3, So.): Bruising guard started four games last year and impressed at times with scoring ability. Must improve defense, though effort is there.
Dominic Green (6-7, Jr.): Shot only 31.7 percent from the field and 28.0 percent from 3-point range last season. Needs to get stronger, and, like everyone else, play better defense. Would imagine Hopkins would like to use his height and length on that end, if he can figure it out.
Bitumba Baruti (6-6, So.): Played sparingly as a freshman, but athleticism and size indicate at least some promise.
Dan Kingma (5-10, Sr.): Hard to say yet whether Kingma will remain on scholarship, as that will depend on how many players Hopkins signs this summer. Either way, Kingma provides some depth, and a little experience, in the backcourt.
Jaylen Nowell (6-4, Fr.): Huskies’ top incoming freshman has every chance to start from day one. Possesses much-needed scoring mentality.
Nate Pryor (6-0, Fr.): Former Seattle University signee followed Cameron Dollar to UW, and should push for playing time at point guard. Was one of the area’s top playmakers as a senior at West Seattle High School.
Michael Carter III (6-4, Fr.): Former O’Dea standout was once committed to San Francisco.
BIGS (3 scholarship, 1 walk-on)
Noah Dickerson (6-8, Jr.): Led UW in rebounding last season, and developed into a reliable low-post scorer, averaging 12.5 points per game. Looked at transfer options before deciding to return to UW. Huskies need him to take another step forward after finishing last season strong.
Sam Timmins (6-10, So.): Struggled throughout much of his freshman season, but with a few flashes of potential. Another offseason of conditioning should help.
Devenir Duruisseau (6-8, Jr.): Played sparingly in each of his first two seasons, but could be pushed into more playing time, depending on which other bigs UW is able to sign this summer.
Greg Bowman (6-7, Sr.): Walk-on has appeared in 19 games in his two-year career.
POTENTIAL STARTING FIVE
G David Crisp
G Jaylen Nowell
G Matisse Thybulle
F Noah Dickerson
F Sam Timmins
So, if you count Kingma, the Huskies actually have filled 12 of their 13 available scholarships for 2017-18 (though again, if Hopkins finds two players he wants to take, I would assume the option is there for Kingma to go back to walk-on status).
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnson crack the starting lineup, and Pryor should have a chance to compete for primary ballhandling duties, since the Huskies lack a true, returning point guard. But right now, I think it’s safe to assume Crisp, Thybulle and Dickerson -- the team’s top three returning scorers -- will start, and it would seem Timmins should be in there, too, considering UW’s current lack of depth in the post. Nowell and Johnson might fight it out for that third starting guard position, though Johnson might be better suited as a sixth man, given his energy and rugged style. The question is who might provide additional contributions. Does Green improve his offensive game enough to be a threat? How ready is Carter? How much will they have to rely on Duruisseau?
Which leads us to ...
Some of it depends upon whether they’re able to add a serviceable big guy to the roster, because as it stands right now, they have only three on scholarship – Dickerson, Timmins and Duruisseaiu. Coaching can only compensate for so much when you just don’t have enough dudes.
Still, I think the roster looks far, far better than many reasonably feared it might when Romar was fired. I think everyone knew they would lose most, if not all, of Romar’s recruiting class, and that proved true, with Nowell being the lone exception.
There was also speculation that transfers might decimate UW’s roster of returning players, but that never came to fruition. Atewe was the only player who chose to leave for another school, and while UW isn’t in a position to turn away any kind of big guy right now, it isn’t as if Atewe was an impact player. Dickerson poked around, too, but ultimately decided to stay, giving the Huskies at least one reliable scoring option in the post.
With all that said – yes, the Huskies will be expected to win more than two conference games next season. That doesn’t mean they won’t (or shouldn’t) be picked near the bottom of the Pac-12 standings in the preseason media poll, or that the 2017-18 season won’t be frustrating to watch. But I think they have enough returning talent – keeping Dickerson, Thybulle and Crisp was really big, and there seems to be room for Johnson to take a leap, too – to capitalize on the energy infused by the coaching change and at least show tangible signs of progress. It is according to that barometer, I think, that Hopkins’ first season will be judged: are they getting better? Does the program appear in capable hands?
They can check both of those boxes without being a truly good team, but they surely can’t do it without winning more than two league games.
Asked a UW official about this. Here is what I was told:
Each enrolled player is permitted two hours of “basketball related” instruction with the coaching staff. These are referred to as individual workouts, though they do not have to occur in a 1-on-1 setting; the Huskies, for example, break into groups of three or four players for their on-court work in the summer.
Coaches can also be in attendance for weight training and conditioning workouts, of which each player is permitted eight hours per week (and the two hours of on-court, skill-based instruction are included in that eight-hour total).
There are other stipulations for players who are enrolled in fewer credits, but you get the gist: eight total hours of workouts, with a maximum of two hours dedicated to skill-based work with a basketball.
Hoping to address this, to some degree, in a story later this week. Stay tuned.